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Lionel Ferbos

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New Orleans'
"Oldest living musician"
dies at 103


The late Lionel Ferbos and the "Louisiana Shakers" perform at the Fleur de Lindy in New Orleans, Louisiana during April 2010.

Born in New Orleans in the city’s Creole 7th Ward on July 17, 1911, Lionel Ferbos began playing the horn when he was fifteen, inspired to take up the instrument despite his asthma after attending a performance of Phil Spitalny's all-girl orchestra at the Orpheum theater.

Believing that if a girl could play a wind instrument so could he young, Lionel acquired a used cornet at a local pawnshop on Rampart Street and set about taking lessons.

His professional career stated in society jazz bands at the onset of the 1930s before joining Captain Handy’s "Louisiana Shakers" in 1932, and later with the Fats Pichon Band accompanying blues singer Mamie Smith.

Although he was not a hot player, as he put it, his ability to read music would ensure that he never had trouble finding work.

Like so many he didn't earn a whole lot from his music but did have a lot of fun and kept his day job as a tin smithy until retirement.

Lionel who was often called upon to recount his experiences in historic New Orleans, received the Big Easy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003.

On the morning of Saturday July 19, 2014 Linoel Ferbos, New Orleans' oldest living musician, died at his home at the age of 103.

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